Friday, November 26, 2004

Group wants to bring back Wright depot

There's no denying Frank Lloyd Wright left an indelible mark on Glencoe, the village where his attorney and friend Sherman Booth once lived.

In the Ravine Bluffs subdivision, seven homes designed by the father of Prairie style architecture still stand, as well as a one-lane vehicular bridge and three masonry sculptures.

But those designs plus a pair of residences along Sheridan Road don't represent the entire breadth of Wright's Glencoe work.

At one time, a waiting station Wright created for the now defunct North Shore electric railway stood near Maple Hill and Old Green Bay roads. The one-story structure, built around 1915, was demolished when the rail line went bankrupt and shuttered operations in the mid-1950s.

"Nobody realized it was even there," said John Houde, Glencoe's director of community development. "It got lost in people's memory."

Now, Houde and a group of Wright enthusiasts want to see the station rebuilt at its original site, a half block or so from the subdivision it used to serve.

Read more at Glencoe News

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Frank Lloyd Wright Travel

Check out Matthew Henderson's Frank Lloyd Wright Travel Blog as he travels California in search of the work of FLW.

Matthew takes us to San Francisco to the Xanadu Gallery who's entrance was the former V.C. Morris Gift Shop, to San Luis Obispo for the Karl Kundert Medical Clinic and to Orinda and the Maynard P. Buehler House. He has a very interesting meeting with Mrs. Maynard Buehler.

Frank Lloyd Wright Travel

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Rebuilding a Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse

A Frank Lloyd Wright-designed boathouse on Wisconsin's Delavan Lake is being rebuilt from the architect's original plans almost three decades after it burned down.

Wright designed five Prairie-style houses on the lake that were constructed between 1900 and 1903.

In 1994, Susan and John Major purchased the largest estate, known as the Penwern Estate, and since then the couple has restored the main house, the gate house, and part of the stables. They have also placed preservation easements on the National Register-listed estate's buildings.

"We are committed to restoring Penwern as Frank Lloyd Wright envisioned it," says Susan Major.

Read more at Preservation

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Group seeks to save bridge

For years now, Glencoe's Historic Preservation Commission has fought to maintain the village's storied architectural legacy in the midst of the residential teardown craze.

The battle hasn't always produced stellar results, as Glencoe has lost some of its most prized treasures with the razing of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and George and William Keck.

Now, the commission has trained its energies on preserving six public landmarks, including the Ravine Bluffs Bridge in the 200 block of Sylvan Road. The vehicular bridge, rebuilt in 1984, is a replica of the structure Wright designed for the site in 1915 and arches over a parched length of creek, filled with fallen leaves and branches, in northeast Glencoe.

Constructed of reinforced concrete, the bridge's design is reminiscent of Wright's famed prairie style with its long horizontal lines offset by flower urns, light pillars and sitting area. It is believed to be the only bridge Wright ever designed.

The commission also is recommending designation for three "entry sculptures" that Wright designed at 277 Sylvan Road and 205 and 265 Franklin roads.

The markers were built in 1915, and, in a sense, signify the boundaries of the Ravine Bluffs subdivision, bounded by Sylvan, Meadow and Franklin roads, with its seven Wright homes. "When entering Glencoe's Ravine Bluffs subdivision, Frank Lloyd Wright's marker is the first thing you see," said Assistant Village Manager Peter Scalera.

Eddis Goodale, the commission's chairman, believes the monuments are as important to the village's architectural fabric as any home or public building. "It's the work of literally the premiere architect America has ever produced," he said. "Frank Lloyd Wright is purely American. And this is some of his work." Goodale said the commission would also like to see two entry pillars at 140 Rockgate Lane designated as well.

The monuments, located on public property, were created by Jens Jensen, whom Goodale described as the "Frank Lloyd Wright of landscape design."

None of the structures have been threatened with demolition but the move to designate them as historic landmarks signals a change in philosophy for the commission.

In the past year, the commission has often found itself playing catch-up, scurrying to recommend a home for designation after a property owner applied for a demolition permit.
By that point, it can be too late.

Though the commission has succeeded in delaying demolition, it hasn't succeeded in saving many of the village's architectural or historically significant homes once they've been sold to a developer.

Where the public landmarks are concerned, the commission isn't taking any chances.
Goodale said the designation won't shield the landmarks from demolition, but it will offer the monuments increased protection.

Because the landmarks sit on public property, it is unlikely they'd be demolished. But in a village where a structure or home's architectural pedigree seems to matter less and less, Goodale said the commission believes designation is important.

A public hearing on the proposed designations will be held in December. The Village Board must approve the resolution before the designations become official.

By Andrew Schroedter Glencoe News

Photographs of the bridge and markers cand be found at Citywide Services

Even a Wright can be a teardown

OK, it was `ugly,' but the house is still the first Frank Lloyd Wright building to be razed since '73

GRAND BEACH, Mich. -- All things must pass, even the streak that lovers of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America's greatest architects, have proudly proclaimed: Not a single Wright building demolished for more than 30 years.No more, they say.

A modest beach house in this quiet lakefront enclave, not far from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's summer home and just down the street from the Wright-designed summer home owned by Daley's brother John, was torn down Monday, preservationists ruefully acknowledged. It is the first Wright building since 1973 to be destroyed. It also appears to mark the first time that the national trend of tearing down small older houses and replacing them with big new ones has led to the destruction of a Wright house.

In an announcement it called an "obituary," the Chicago-based Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy revealed the demolition of the 88-year-old W.S. Carr summer cottage "with great regret and considerable outrage."But some said the house was not Wright's best work. Some believed it was termite-plagued. One simply called it "really ugly. "Still, officials here had a tinge of mourning in their voices for losing a Wright building."It's sad to make history that way," said John Boden Jr., Grand Beach's building and zoning commissioner. But he maintained there was little the village could do.

Unlike Chicago and some of its suburbs, Grand Beach has no landmark laws or tax incentives that could have stalled the demolition."I don't really see how we as a village had any way to stop it from happening," Boden said. Property records show that Thomas and Irene Trainor of the southwest Chicago suburb of Homer Glen bought the Carr cottage, located at 46039 Lake View Ave., on Jan. 1. Reached by telephone Friday, Thomas Trainor declined to comment.

Grand Beach officials said the village issued the Trainors a demolition permit Oct. 28 and that the Trainors have received approval to build a four-bedroom home with a two-car garage on the dune-lined, lakefront property. The house will have a low-pitched roof and broad overhangs, among the signature elements of Wright's internationally renowned Prairie-style houses, Boden said."Jumbo Prairie," he called it.

But replacing an original Wright house with an imitation was little comfort to Ron Scherubel, executive director of the Wright Building Conservancy, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving Wright's buildings. "We view it as a significant loss," he said. "It shows insensitivity to preserving the entire body of Wright's work."Neighbors, however, expressed pleasure that the cottage, which they characterized as a poorly maintained eyesore, was gone."It was a really ugly house," said Angie Storey, 37, who lives nearby. "You couldn't tell it was anything special. "Her husband, Brian Storey, 36, said: "I've seen a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright houses and that didn't even look like one. That must have been one of his earlier works.

"Even preservationists admit that the Carr summer cottage ranked relatively low in the canon of Wright homes, possessing little of the majesty of the architect's Fallingwater house that cantilevers over a stream in Pennsylvania or his steamship-like Robie House in Hyde Park. In addition, when the Carr house was torn down, it little resembled the house Wright designed. A stone veneer had replaced the original stucco and wood trim, for example."In truth," the Conservancy's announcement said, "the greatly altered summer cottage was `lost' many years ago.

"Nevertheless, the Conservancy considered the home significant because it was part of an unusual and little-known cluster--one of three Wright-designed homes in Grand Beach, all summer cottages built in 1916. Had the Carr cottage fallen into the hands of a preservation-minded owner, Scherubel maintained, it could have been restored.

The remaining Wright homes in Grand Beach are the Ernest Vosburgh cottage at 46208 Crescent Rd. and the Joseph J. Bagley cottage at 47017 Lake View Ave., just down the street from the Carr cottage. The Bagley cottage, which also has been greatly altered, is owned by Cook County Commissioner John Daley, property records show.

This was not the first time that the teardown trend has threatened a Wright house. Since 2001, three Wright houses in Chicago's suburbs--in Bannockburn, Glencoe and Lisle--have faced demolition, but preservation-minded buyers saved them.

Earlier this year, the Lisle house, a modest one-story prefabricated structure, was taken apart and shipped to southwestern Pennsylvania, where it sits in a warehouse and is waiting to be reassembled, Scherubel said."The teardown on really desirable properties is always going to be a risk," he said.

The last Wright-designed buildings to be demolished were the Arthur Munkwitz Apartments in Milwaukee, which were destroyed in 1973 to make room for a road widening, according to William Allin Storrer, author of "The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright," a catalogue of more than 400 Wright structures around the world.Born in Wisconsin, Wright practiced in Chicago and Oak Park during the early phases of a career that revolutionized the American house with flowing interior spaces. He produced roughly 500 buildings, including such masterworks as the spiraling Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

The architect died in 1959, but recent television specials about his architectural legacy and operatic life--Wright was a chronic deadbeat and once ran off to Europe with the wife of a client--have sparked a resurgence of interest in his work. Preservationists are counting on that awareness to help stave off future demolitions.

Asked if the destruction of the cottage would open the floodgates for more Wright buildings to come down, Scherubel said: "I'm hoping that people are more preservation-oriented now than they were in the past."

According to the Conservancy, nearly 20 percent of Wright's completed works have been destroyed because of fire, neglect or development.The organization was formed in 1989 to preserve the remaining Wright structures. Even on Friday, its Web site still noted: "Since the formation of the Conservancy, not one Wright building has been lost.""Well, I guess the Conservancy's going to have to change [that] sentence," a writer said in an e-mail message to the group's online chat room.

Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune

Monday, November 08, 2004

Wright home goes Victorian for Christmas

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, is offering free Victorian Christmas tours December 11th and 18th.

The home, where the architect and his family lived from 1889 to 1909, will feature a 12-foot tree in the center of the famous playroom Wright designed for his six children. The tour will include stories on how the Wright children celebrated Christmas.

Tours run continuously from 9 to 11 a.m. each day and are 30 minutes long.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Herbert Jacobs House Posted by Hello

What this country needs is a good five-thousand dollar house!

That is what Herbert & Katherine Jacobs said to Frank Lloyd Wright in 1937. Wright said "Would you really want a five-thousand dollar house? Most people want a ten-thousand dollar house for five-thousand dollars". What developed was a low cost custom home designed for the average man.

This was the first of Wright’s famed "Unsonian" designs, a dwelling "of and for" the United States. Its in-floor heating, sandwich walls, carport, and corner windows influenced residential architecture around America and led the Royal Institute of British Architecture to declare it one of the twenty most important buildings of the twentieth century.

In each of these designs Wright expressed his principles of organic architecture. All of the houses were built of readily available materials left as unadorned as possible. Each design was site-specific to take advantage of the view and terrain. The typical Usonian floor plan included small entryways, narrow passages, large central fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows. The designs were tailored to each individual client.

"We can never make the living room big enough, the fireplace important enough, or the sense of relationship between exterior, interior and environment close enough, or get enough of these good things I've just mentioned. A Usonian house is always hungry for the ground, lives by it, becoming an integral feature of it."

The"Usonians" represent the culmination of his residential work. Barely 100 were built.

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